OAKLAND – Stephen Curry is ambivalent about this particular All-Star Weekend, which is understandable. His soaring global popularity and the local fame of his family are on a collision course with conceivably the greatest player in NBA history.
The game and related events will be in Charlotte, where Curry’s parents live and where his siblings spent their formative years.
The host team is the Hornets, who will be represented by an All-Star starter, Kemba Walker, and an All-World owner. Michael Jordan bought them nine years ago.
But Charlotte is Stephen Curry’s city. It’s where he lived when introduced to the rest of the planet. He still lives it, breathes it and surely knows it even better than Jordan.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to highlight and showcase the city and celebrate it for what it meant to me on my journey,” Curry said Tuesday.
This is a semi-awkward position for Curry. Walker is a tremendous player and beloved in Charlotte. Jordan is, well, Michael Freaking Jordan, the most supernatural player to fly above earth.
Curry says he will make no attempts to upstage the host team, its All-Star or its Jordan.
“No,” he said when asked about a role as host. “The Hornet organization, in general, through MJ and Kemba, obviously they represent the city on a daily basis. We’ll be everywhere, all over the city, throughout the weekend. I’m sure you’ll see a lot of it.
“But I hope to just be in the moment and be able to celebrate how, after 10 years in (the NBA), we’re kind of coming back full circle where it all started. Back at home. I’m just going to enjoy myself.”
Yet there is no way Curry can avoid being a massive presence in Charlotte. He is that in Salt Lake City or Philadelphia or Atlanta or New Orleans. He is that in Asia.
His widespread acclaim is a byproduct of first becoming a star at tiny (less than 2,000 enrolled) Davidson College, 20 miles up the road from Charlotte. Since the Warriors drafted him in 2009, Curry’s 3-point shooting has lit up the NBA to such a degree that he’s often identified as the player who changed the league. He has two MVP awards and three NBA championships.
But there’s more. Curry’s father, Dell, is an original Hornet, among the greatest players in franchise history and a color analyst on telecasts. He also serves as a Hornets Ambassador and Special Projects Advisor. Stephen’s brother, Seth, was a star guard at Duke and now a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Dell Curry Foundation operates five learning centers in Charlotte designed to offer educational training and substance abuse counseling.
The Currys – also including Stephen’s mother, Sonya, and his sister, Sydel – are no less than royalty in the Charlotte area. Or, as the Charlotte Observer described them: Charlotte’s first family of basketball.
“In terms of what it meant to me growing up, learning the game of basketball there, in a community that supported my Pops and my Mom when they were coming through and, in turn, me and my siblings, it’s just a lot of great memories,” Stephen Curry said. “No matter where I go – and having been out in the Bay for 10 years – it’s still pretty close to my heart.”
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Curry, for now, is coping with ticket requests, with Dell serving as the middleman. Though he wouldn’t divulge the number of requests – the number changes by the day – it’s already approaching 100.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have games to play. They face the Utah Jazz Tuesday night at Oracle Arena, and fly to Portland immediately afterward to meet the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
Soon enough, Curry will prepare for the 3-point contest in which Seth will be among the competitors on Saturday. On Sunday, Curry also will make his sixth consecutive start in the game – the only Warrior with that distinction.
“When I get on the plane after the game in Portland, that’s when I’ll really start to get in the zone there and look forward to celebrating with my entire family,” he said. “My brother being a part of Saturday night, they’re honoring my dad on Sunday morning for his contributions to the city and also to the NBA over his 16-year career.
“So it’s a lot to be thankful for, a lot to celebrate. It will be fun having the entire family there throughout the whole weekend.”
Good luck matching the gravitational pull of the Currys, Michael, even if Stephen has no intention of creating it.